The Zeitgeist Politics

Global Politics with a focus on The Middle East

Iran Election Aftermath – Expert analysis so far

with 4 comments

For my previous posts on the issue, click here for the general situation and political buildup and here for the immediate aftermath on the streets. Have been doing a lot of reading today about the elections and the aftermath and thought I would collate the key things that people are saying:

– Tehran Bureau has collated a useful graph of the vote-counting updates released at the time of the updates, pointing to an exact linear correlation, which seems somewhat unlikely:

The vertical axis (y) shows Mr. Mousavi’s votes, and the horizontal (x) the President’s. R^2 shows the correlation coefficient: the closer it is to 1.0, the more perfect is the fit, and it is 0.9995, as close to 1.0 as possible for any type of data. Statistically and mathematically, it is impossible to maintain such perfect linear relations between the votes of any two candidates in any election — and at all stages of vote counting.

– Tehran Bureau also points out the inconsistencies when it comes to voters from the home villages of the other candidates supposedly also landsliding to Ahmadinejad:

This is particularly true about Iran, a large country with a variety of ethnic groups who usually vote for a candidate who is ethnically one of their own. For example, in the present elections, Mr. Mousavi is an Azeri and speaks Turkish. The Azeries make up 1/4 of all the eligible voters in Iran and in his trips to Azerbaijan province, where most of the Azeri population lives, Mr. Mousavi had been greeted by huge rallies in support of his campaign. Likewise, Mr. Karroubi, the other reformist candidate, is a Lor. But according to the data released by Iran’s Interior Ministry, in both cases, Mr. Ahmadinejad has far outdone both candidates in their own provinces of birth and among their own ethnic populations.

– Juan Cole draws up a 6 point argument in favour of the vote-rigging theory which is fairly comprehensive and quite convincing, my favourite point being:

It is claimed that cleric Mehdi Karoubi, the other reformist candidate, received 320,000 votes, and that he did poorly in Iran’s western provinces, even losing in Luristan. He is a Lur and is popular in the west, including in Kurdistan. Karoubi received 17 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections in 2005. While it is possible that his support has substantially declined since then, it is hard to believe that he would get less than one percent of the vote. Moreover, he should have at least done well in the west, which he did not.

– Foreign Policy’s The Cable has an excellent rundown of events including links to various statements, and updates on what’s happening in the street, some planned rallies and the like. I’ve also used their pic above. Check it out and refresh it once in a while.

– American Footprints has an interesting interview with Mohsen Makhbalbaf (sourced from Tehran Bureau) and some other supporting facts to argue that this is in fact a coup orchestrated by the military and not by Khamenei, but is still unclear on what Khamenei’s role in this all actually is:

A coup led by the military is also easier to explain than one ordered by Ayatollah Khamene’i. I had been thinking about the implications of a Mousavi victory, and concluded that, given the continuing conservative dominance of Parliament, the most important changes for Iranians would be a different economic policy and the replacement of someone hostile to the old revolutionary establishment embodied by the likes of Rafsanjani with someone who was actually a part of it

– Abbas Barzegar, writing for the Guardian, says that people are engaged in wishful thinking, that Ahmadinejad did indeed win the election fair & square, no matter how unpalatable that might be to some of us:

Perhaps from the start Mousavi was destined to fail as he hoped to combine the articulate energies of the liberal upper class with the business interests of the bazaar merchants. The Facebook campaigns and text-messaging were perfectly irrelevant for the rural and working classes who struggle to make a day’s ends meet, much less have the time to review the week’s blogs in an internet cafe. Although Mousavi tried to appeal to such classes by addressing the problems of inflation and poverty, they voted otherwise.

– The normally extremely reliable Robert Fisk loosely backs the idea of a fair Ahmadinejad victory (though also not discounting allegations of vote rigging completely) through some discussions with locals. Definitely makes me think twice. He also has a lot of accounts of the brutality and exactly what’s going on on the streets in retaliation to the protests:

My guest and I drank dookh, the cool Iranian drinking yoghurt so popular here. The streets of Tehran were a thousand miles away. “You know why so many poorer women voted for Ahmadinejad? There are three million of them who make carpets in their homes. They had no insurance. When Ahmadinejad realised this, he immediately brought in a law to give them full insurance. Ahmadinejad’s supporters were very shrewd. They got the people out in huge numbers to vote – and then presented this into their vote for Ahmadinejad.”

Now another policeman, in an army uniform, climbed into the vehicle, tied the man’s hands behind his back with plastic handcuffs, took out his baton and whacked him across the face. The prisoner was in tears but the blows kept coming; until more young men arrived for their torment. Then more police vans arrived and ever more prisoners to be beaten. All were taken in these caged trucks to the basement of the Interior Ministry. I saw them drive in.

– Steve Clemons for The Washington Note predicts further blood-letting and even a civil war of sorts in the Iranian political establishment:

But the scariest point he made to me that I had not heard anywhere else is that this “coup by the right wing” has created pressures that cannot be solved or patted down by the normal institutional arrangements Iran has constructed. The Guardian Council and other power nodes of government can’t deal with the current crisis and can’t deal with the fact that a civil war has now broken out among Iran’s revolutionaries.

My contact predicted serious violence at the highest levels. He said that Ahmadinejad is now genuinely scared of Iranian society and of Mousavi and Rafsanjani. The level of tension between them has gone beyond civil limits — and my contact said that Ahmadinejad will try to have them imprisoned and killed.

– Gary Sick also has some early analysis including the impact this may have on Obama’s new engagement policy:

The willingness of the regime simply to ignore reality and fabricate election results without the slightest effort to conceal the fraud represents a historic shift in Iran’s Islamic revolution. All previous leaders at least paid lip service to the voice of the Iranian people. This suggests that Iran’s leaders are aware of the fact that they have lost credibility in the eyes of many (most?) of their countrymen, so they are dispensing with even the pretense of popular legitimacy in favor of raw power.

Will continue to stay on this as it’s hard to tear myself away and will post further when I can.

Written by alexlobov

June 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

4 Responses

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  1. You are doing a fantastic job.

    Sohaib

    June 15, 2009 at 12:41 am

  2. no seriously, its a great summary of events and saves going to dozens of websites.

    Sohaib

    June 15, 2009 at 3:13 am


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